Filed under: Fair Trade, Fair Trade Canada | Tags: Fair Trade, Fair Trade Canada
Canadian Coalition for Fair Trade First General Meeting November 1-2, 2008 The meeting began at 9:15am on Saturday, November 1 in the auditorium of St. Paul’s University in Ottawa. Reykia Fick of TransFair Canada called the meeting to order, welcomed participants, and thanked Ten Thousand Villages, Level Ground Trading, and Just Us! Coffee Roasters for their sponsorship of the event. Umi Café, located at 610 Somerset Street, was also thanked for hosting an informal welcome reception on Friday, October 31. The meeting was held in both French and English with translation Fick then introduced Denyse Guy from the Ontario Cooperative Association who facilitated the meeting. Guy reviewed the five objectives of the meeting: 1. Develop collectively the organizational framework to build a fair trade movement in Canada. 2. Agree on the vision, mission and value statements for the coalition. 3. Determine key functions of the coalition and mechanisms for participation. 4. Develop one year operational plan with key priorities including deliverables with timing. 5. Celebrate our achievements. She asked for additions or amendments to these objectives. None given. To begin the meeting, participants set agreements to guide behaviour during the weekend. Agreements included offering an inclusive space for discussion, being efficient, being flexible with the meeting agenda, creating a speaker’s list, raising hands to be recognized, seeking consensus, and disagreeing without being disagreeable. All participants then introduced themselves and outlined their hopes and expectations for the weekend. Shared expectations included creating a common voice among those interested and involved in Fair Trade throughout Canada, increasing awareness among the public, governments, and businesses, offering clear messaging about what Fair Trade is, offering a space for discussion, and closer connections among those involved in Fair Trade in Canada. Three exercises also sought to capture the diversity within the group, including the geographic distribution, years involved in fair trade, and affiliation (university, NGO, Fair Trade company, etc.). Representatives from the NGO sector and from Fair Trade companies constituted the two largest groups participating, but individuals from universities, representing producer groups, and government were also in attendance. After a brief review of the agenda, a majority of participants agreed that the weekend would not include a formal discussion of how the Coalition would define Fair Trade. It was also recognized that notes and suggestions from earlier meetings regarding the definition had been sent to FINE Network and that discussions are underway between FLO and IFAT on an updated version of the international definition. Guy then led participants in a brainstorm session of values for the Coalition. The final set of Values will be drafted and confirmed by the Steering Committee, but ideas included • Partnership, • Inclusion, • Democracy / democratic governance, • Solidarity, • Representative / Diverse • Cooperation, • Sustainability • Practicality • Consumer Knowledge / Empowerment • Collegiality and Respect • Justice • Respect Carmen Iezzi of the Fair Trade Federation then presented the statement which the Steering Committee had proposed as working mission for the Coalition, as well as a brief summary of data collected during a pre-meeting survey. The survey was created by the Steering Committee to collect information primarily from those who could not attend the meeting and to use their input to inform the discussion during the meeting. In all, sixty people completed the survey. Of the respondents, 92.2% supported or strongly supported the draft mission statement. Participants during the session agreed that they would not wordsmith the text of the mission, but instead discuss whether it captured the ideas of and for the Coalition. Many participants sought a bolder, stronger, and more action-oriented mission statement than the version proposed which more clearly talked about Fair Trade. It was agreed that a small group would revise the statement over lunch and come back with a proposal. After lunch, this committee’s work received some positive feedback. It was edited and amended by several participants before finally being adopted as: The Canadian Coalition for Fair Trade works to promote and strengthen Fair Trade as a sustainable economic model through networking, advocacy, and public engagement. Participants also considered several key functions for the Coalition: • Networking • Education • Promotion / Offering a Common Voice • Advocacy • Enhancing the Capacity of Organizations (sharing information, resources, etc.) There was general agreement that the Coalition could facilitate campaigns, mobilize Canadians to choose Fair Trade Certified products and products from members of the Fair Trade Federation or IFAT, and support the development of regional, national, and local networks. Participants also debated the differences between what the Coalition would do and what members of the Coalition would do. Some differences of opinion persisted regarding how broad or narrow focus to Coalition’s work (as the Coalition itself), but there was general agreement that members should consider what activities they can do more effectively together than apart and/or informally when deciding.
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